HEAD TO HEAD WITH Coral Rose, Managing Director at Country Range Group
What attracted you to a career in the foodservice world?
I stumbled upon foodservice as I was looking for my first marketing job after graduating and Watson and Philip were recruiting. 26 years later I am still passionate about the industry as there is always more to learn.
You’ve sat on both sides of the supply chain fence – what is your most notable campaign when you were responsible for marketing some of the sector’s most renowned brands?
Just to pick one is hard as there have been so many and in all different guises … I think a campaign I remember fondly is when I was at RHM Foodservice when the whole Turkey Twizzlers story broke and there was a huge focus on school meals and the nutrient based standards were subsequently introduced. We took the opportunity to re-enforce the credentials of the McDougalls brand and invested a lot of time in market leading technology to reformulate the recipes. We delivered a series of roadshows around the UK for school cooks where we had a home economist to give training and explain the legislation and the impact on them and what they needed to do. We supported this with recipes and a full marcomms plan. The campaign not only arrested the brand share decline but really engaged with the customer and genuinely helped them make sense of the new rules being thrust on them.
You have achieved so much in your career to date, currently holding the position of Managing Director of The Country Range Group, so what attracted back into the wholesale sector and what is the most challenging aspect of your present role?
Whilst I enjoyed working with brand manufacturers, my heart was always with the wholesale side of the business and being closer to our customers. Heading up a buying group certainly has its challenges but I have a great team who are all committed to supporting the profitable growth of our members.
Women in business have made huge strides over the past few decades, but there is still a disparity in the hospitality sector, especially among chefs and high-level positions. How do you think as an industry we can address the gender imbalance?
I’m a massive supporter of the Women in Wholesale initiative that has been created by Elit Rowland. Over the last two years WiW has conducted conferences, a speed networking session and produced two valuable reports. All these activities are focused on giving practical advice and support for women to develop their careers and for wholesale employers to be better able to recruit, retain and develop women in their business. The events are also fantastic for networking and I would encourage men and women alike to get involved.
As a guest speaker at The Hub’s latest breakfast briefing, what are your three top tips for winning in wholesale?
Invest in the channel – ensure your business and your sales team really understand the diversity of the marketplace and the route to market
Understand the relevance of your product – be able to clearly articulate why the caterer should buy it.
Work in Partnership – share product information and plans in an effective timeframe and be willing to learn and adapt.
Looking ahead - what are your predictions for the channel in the next five years?
I think the biggest changes are going to come from the routes to market being impacted by scale and by technology. We are already seeing new entrants moving into a traditional wholesale space with Amazon securing the contract to supply YPO. The role of buying groups is key for the protection and success of independent wholesalers but I can’t see there still being 6 buying groups in 5 years time…
Imagine you have 3 minutes for a ‘Cash and Carry Sweep’ around a Country Range Group member’s depot – what would be the top items you would throw into your trolley for dinner that evening?
A lovely fresh rib eye steak, some Country Range chips, fresh herbs and Country Range Extra Virgin Olive oil, (to make a chimichurri dressing). Country Range Choc Chip Cookie Stack for pudding and then hopefully still time to grab a bottle of pinot noir! (Although I probably would start with the wine and then grab the rest!!)